Slow Progress

The previous post on intention got just about as much response as I expected…and so emphasizes for me the major difficulty with this proposed project.  Obviously, that is the problem of audience.  

Although the NIH estimates that as many as 10% of Americans over the age of 12 have some kind of substance abuse problem, it is hard to imagine finding an audience for the kind of book I would have to write on the subject.  Yes, there is evidence that those with high IQs are over-represented in the population of alcoholics. Still, I’m not sure I can explain the problem of addiction adequately to even those for whom this is a significant issue.  

There are two reasons for this. One has to do with the general anti-intellectualism in American culture.  We are usually happy with the paradoxical and contradictory accounts of addiction we get in the current addiction-industry discourse.  Any better explanation would involve that most horrifying of evils, an evil far worse to most Americans than the slow agonizing death of an alcoholic: critical thought.  Specifically, critical thought about many of our common-sense assumptions about the world.   This is hard to get most Americans to do, even when their very lives depend on doing it.

In short, while I think I could explain the problem of addiction clearly enough that someone struggling with addiction would have a better sense of how to deal with the problem, I believe this would only be possible with an audience willing and able to think.  

The goal of our higher educational system is mostly to enable the wealthy to become wealthier; but a subsidiary goal is clearly to render students incapable of intelligent thought.   America doesn’t want college grads who are able to think well.  So years of effort are put in striking terror of the intellect into the hearts of young people.  

Then, the addiction discourse works hard to convince people that thinking is the cause of their addiction, and the only cure is to avoid intellectual effort.  

I think I’ve hesitated to write this book about addiction for so long because I’m just not sure who I’m writing it for.  I’m still unsure of this, and so my progress on this project is likely to be halting.  

Then there are the personal and psychological impediments.  Over the years, since I first started writing on Speculative Non-buddhism, I’ve worked to become less irascible.  Part of this is even avoiding the “Rinzai” persona I sometimes used to silence the reactionary anti-intellectuals so ubiquitous on the internet.  I’ve adopted the strategy of simply ignoring the “morons” and speaking only to fellow “imbeciles,” and for the most part it has worked—although I’m still prone to pointless rants about anti-intellectualism in American education and the gross incompetence of most public school teachers….

However, one issue I have trouble NOT getting angry about is the incompetence and stupidity of those in positions of power over addicts.  The shocking stupidity, and the pettiness and mean-spiritedness, of most people who work as addiction counselors infuriates me.  They are dealing with people whose lives are in seriously jeopardy, and choose to use this as an opportunity for petty-tyranny and the indulgence of their own narcissism and egotism.  Even more frustrating, perhaps, is the problem of academic researchers in this field—the kind unable to see why a study in which none of the participants have been cured is NOT “empirical validated.”  The kind who blindly accept the claims of success, and refuse to look at the data on which those claims are made.  

This still makes me too angry, and I’m not really sure I’m up to dealing with this anger for the length of time it would take to write this book.  

So, I may still work on this project sporadically…but I’m going to have to find something else to work on in the meantime.  

In coming months, I’ll likely focus on resuming the old “Imaginary Relations” online journal.  I tend to become less angry over the ideological implications of aesthetic objects.  A bad interpretation of “Bartleby, the Scrivener” is far less likely to kill a person than a misguided “treatment” of addiction.

In the meantime: still looking for some reviews of Indispensable Goods, either here or on Amazon, so I can try to drum up some interest.  So far, the response I’ve gotten on email, in person, and here on the blog has been very encouraging. Thanks! It’s good to know the book makes sense, and seems to achieve its intended end, at least with the right kind of reader.  

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